The DMT Experience

I smoked DMT last month. It was the most terrifying and profound experience of my life.

Yes, the following article details my experience of tripping on a hallucinogenic drug called DMT – but I promise it’s not an obnoxious recount of how silly it made me and my friends act, or anything of that vein.

DMT, short for dimethyltryptamine (pronounced die-meth-ill-trip-ta-mean), is a chemical substance found in an enormous variety of plants. DMT is conjectured to be produced by the pineal gland of mammalian brains.

When smoked, DMT is perhaps the most powerful hallucinogen known to science – a statement about which I was skeptical only until I smoked it.

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I need to pause here. I linked the word “conjectured” above to an article that questions whether the brain’s pineal gland truly produces DMT.

The majority of what’s known about DMT was discovered by Dr. Rick Strassman, and expounded upon by him with clarity in DMT: The Spirit Molecule (not to be confused with the documentary by the same name). Much of that is conjecture. Conjecture reached through careful scientific inferences, but conjecture nonetheless.

For example: Though it has been proven that humans produce natural endogenous DMT, there isn’t any direct scientific evidence that indicates the pineal gland plays a roll in DMT’s biosynthesis. In fact, science has yet to demonstrate that the human brain has anything to do with the production of DMT.

However, studies have shown that other mammalian brains (e.g. lab rats’ brains) produce DMT, so it may be conjectured (given that we know DMT is produced somewhere in the human body) that DMT biosynthesis occurs in human brains as well.

From there, we may conjecture that it originates in our pineal gland because, on the molecular level, DMT is structurally analogous to other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, both of which are produced by the pineal gland. (More info here).

I say this for the sake of not having to use the word “conjecture” every other sentence during this article, but also because – as much as I hate to admit it – much of what I’m about to say lacks scientific verification. When it comes down to it, that’s only because DMT is extremely illegal and the government doesn’t want you to know about it. Fuckin’ government, right?

Regardless, given my immense respect for science, I feel implored to make bleedingly clear that this is a recount of my subjective DMT trip. Having said that, part of any subjective experience involves the subject’s beliefs. So just keep in mind that I’m the subject, and I believe some stuff about DMT that isn’t scientifically verified.

You’ll understand in a moment why all this matters.

Part One: The Mysteries of DMT

Paradiso Canto by Gustave Doré

For some unknowable reason, our brains produce DMT at a higher rate when we enter REM sleep. It is, quite literally, the stuff that dreams are made of.

My initial interest in DMT was sparked by both its powerful nature and its connection to dreaming. Why did our species evolve to produce DMT? We know the purpose of structurally similar neurotransmitters; serotonin regulates our mood, while melatonin regulates our sleep cycle. So what does DMT regulate? What is it about the ability of our brains to excrete such a chemical that made our ancestors more apt in surviving and procreating than those born without it? The same can be asked of dreaming.

We all dream. Which – if you so happen to subscribe to the radical theory of evolution – means that dreaming must contribute some sort of benefit to a species’ ability to survive on Earth. It can’t be coincidental that those pre-homosapien ancestors of ours who dreamt just happened to out-live and out-fuck those who didn’t. In the very least, something about dreaming must fuel our desire to live and fuck, if not our ability. And without DMT, we wouldn’t dream.

There’s a lot of good theories surrounding DMT. I won’t delve into them, but the main hypothesis of Dr. Strassman’s work is that DMT explains the phenomena of near death experience. In other words, that your brain releases a surge of DMT at the (real or perceived) onset of death. Almost as though it’s a necessary component of reaching the afterlife.

I mean, were an afterlife – or spiritual realm – to indeed exist, must there not also exist some sort of physical attribute within us with which we connect to it? Wouldn’t there need to be a real, feasible link between us and the afterlife?

Perhaps this peculiar neurotransmitter we call DMT is that link.

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I should mention, since I’ve said so much about Strassman so far, something about Terence McKenna; he was an active proponent for scientific research into DMT long before Strassman came along. He is probably the sole reason you and I know that DMT exists.

There’s too much to say about McKenna to summarize here. Just make sure to do a Google and/or YouTube search for Terrence McKenna (and Rick Strassman) after this article. And here’s a couple audio recordings of two great DMT related interviews for later.

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The first is a 2006 interview with Joe Rogan (yes, the comedian/UFC announcer) in which he gives an impassioned, almost rambling, description of the DMT experience. It’s quite entertaining:

The second is a recent interview with Rick Strassman that is quite long, but well worth the listen:

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I had been aware of DMT for some time, but was never interested in it enough to read through the endless DMT experience reports scattered around the web, or to research Strassman and his studies. Besides, I’ve always been the kind of drug user who likes to go into the experience with no preconceptions of its effects.

Other than doing research to ensure it wouldn’t kill me or make me [more] insane, Mr. Rogan’s experience was the only one I heard prior to my DMT trip. Upon listening to that YouTube video, I made the decision that if I ever had the opportunity to do DMT – in a safe, friendly environment of course – I would jump at the chance.

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177 thoughts on “The DMT Experience”

  1. I really enjoyed your story. I have yet to try DMT. My experence with drugs are about zero….just a little pot. My reasoning is to understand life and death and what GOD is. Doing the drug scares me… I am not all that eventurist but this really seems to be something that may hold a key to knowledge. I think I know how to make DMT …not sure how else to get it. I hope u continue to blog….ur words gave me comfort and courage. I’m Rick in Phoenix AZ. Hope to have one of my own stories soon

    1. Let me know if you do wind up with your own story! As far as understanding what God is, I personally wouldn’t go down that road. The way I look at it, expecting to be able to understand God is like expecting your computer to understand you; its just not possible. I don’t think God created us to understand him, if he exists. At least, that would be uncharacteristically egotistical of him if he did. :P As far as understanding ‘life’ goes, you got the right idea, there. If anything, God created us so we may develop our own understanding of life.

      Thanks for the kind words, Rick. :)

  2. Is it hypocritcal to hope that modern medicine can bring me back from near death, and yet feel there is something wrong with doing DMT? For some reason, I think this is something we shouldn’t mess with. I don’t know if we’re supposed to “cross over” before we cross over, no matter what you believe is waiting.

    1. Well, I’ve never thought of it before, but to answer your first question: Yes, I would consider that one specific line of thinking hypocritical. But since when is hypocrisy a sin? :P But is there anything wrong with believing DMT is something we shouldn’t mess with? Not at all. In fact, had I been aware of precisely what a DMT trip entails prior to doing it, I probably wouldn’t have fucked with it. Having said that, despite my initial assumption that I “was somewhere I shouldn’t be,” the beings I saw on DMT did all they could to dispel that feeling from me. Now, why they acted in such a way is something I don’t know; just because they acted like my presence was welcome doesn’t mean it actually was. But I can’t muddle my mind with every single hypothetical.

      My friend Alec had the same experience with the beings his first time. The second time, when he did it with me, he told me that as he was being placed back in his body, one of the beings cradled him like a baby and imparted to him not to ever return; that they’ve enjoyed having him, but that he may never return. Needless to say, he has no interest in ever doing it again.

      To be honest, I’m rather frightened at the prospect of experiencing DMT again. The principle reason being my propagation of the experience. If you’re right, and it is indeed something we shouldn’t mess around with, I’m afraid the beings will be furious with me, if I ever return, for attempting to describe their world in human terms. However, the overall feeling I got from these beings was pure benevolence. I mean from their character – not physical makeup. Their physical makeup is scary as shit. But the way they act; I still think they may have been guardian angels of sorts. But anyway, thanks a bunch for your input; as you can tell, it’s got me thinking. :P

        1. You actually just summed up my feelings from the days after doing it. Even, in a way, some of the feelings I had during it. You’re right, who doesn’t want to believe there is something good waiting for us after death?

          In my case, it was a weird bitter-sweet type of experience. While I was convinced of what I saw, I had long since accepted – and been fine with – the ‘fact’ that once you die, your body rots in the ground, and that’s it. So for me, it was kinda like, “Oh, fuck… Maybe there is more to this whole afterlife thing.” Yet, at the same time, what I saw was merely what I saw, and does not guarantee anything about what’s really real. Shit, I mean, I can’t even guarantee this world is really real. What proof do I have? My eyes? Well, what are those? Biological tools which decode information (the wavelengths of photons) into what I know of as ‘sight.’ It’s certainly ‘real’ within the context of all we’re capable of knowing, but that doesn’t guarantee it’s existence. Which then takes you full circle back to the experience of DMT; which, while I can’t know for sure if it’s actually a spiritual one, I do know it was indeed an experience, and one so specific in its imagery that it’s hard to believe a world created purely through natural coincidence, as atheists believe ours was, could result in a species evolving the ability to receive them as I did.

          So yeah, after all that complicated twisted logic was done being computed in my brain, I was left with an overall reassured feeling about the afterlife.

  3. I’d never do this, and I would be really, really pissed at my kid if she ever did it. But this is really interesting stuff, and it is pretty cool for me to get to learn about it through your writing (as that is the only way I ever could, lol). I hope you can generate a big causal link, or uncover whatever answers are out there, because it is really quite astonishing to think that it can be replicated and recounted like that.

    1. Thanks a bunch, that means a lot because I focused on writing it in such a way that would spark the interest of people who’d never have any actual interest in doing the drug. However, whether you like it or not, you and your kid both trip on DMT every night whilst sleeping. :P

  4. Crazy shit man… its pretty crazy that I happened to do DMT for the first time last month too… crazier yet I found your blog on like the 5th page of Google concerning how to cover up my weed scent in a house of anti-weeders. And you seem to have turned Agnostic for the reason I did, damn church being a cult and nobody is willing to except it, well, the churchgoers aren’t, at least. ANYWAYS I used to have a pretty vibrant childhood with many spiritual friends, and I had hundreds of accounts with SHADOW PEOPLE. Until last month I kinda thought all the shit I saw as a kid a just a bunch of hullabaloo, and now I think there might be a little more to this DMT thing… I think meditation and pertaining Eastern religions could probably shed a little more light on the subject… Astral Projection? Soma? It’s all up in the air but there is definitely an amoeba like subject coming into shape on the horizon… Well I am babbling, awesome post! Love this blog! This subject can just make me shoot off onto all sorts of tangents!

    1. Yes. Awesome. That’s exactly why I posted this. I knew my friends and I were far from the first to have this experience from DMT. You’re welcome to speak with me here; or my email is I don’t use a chat program but gmail has one.

      Also, I’ve found the place on the internet with the most substantive information/discussion on DMT is DMT-Nexus. Their forums are very active, with a lot of experience reports, and the website is just generally informative.

      But yes, let’s talk.

  5. Being a pharmacological psychonaut is definitely a young person’s game. Back in the ’70s, we used to call these sorts of tales of re-made consciousness “war stories”. This was interesting to read about, but I deeply enjoy singing now, and smoking anything is bad for the vocal cords (as is too much alcohol and other things). If I explore the Amazon after retirement, I might consider ayahuasca, if it came up in an indigenous context. I still like the direct experience of alternate consciousness. I just get there through meditation and exercise now. No, it isn’t the same. It’s more comfortable, a way to infuse ordinary daily living with a tinge of extra-terrestrial color. Plus, nobody will try to put you in jail for pursuing it. Risk vs. benefit, ya know?

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Mikey. I would like to get to the point eventually where I can reach some sort of similar state through meditation. Being a typical lazy young adult, however, the thought of the amount of practice attaining such an ability would take intimidates me. Luckily I got some time (hopefully).

      And about ayahuasca, I’m with you. I certainly wouldn’t do it in any environment other than a traditional, indigenous one. I’ll admit, the reason I did DMT in the first place was because it sounded like a different, relatively harmless, and short lived new drug experience. After doing it, however, I’m solely interested in exploring it for its spiritual qualities. Ayahuasca would be perfect for that as it lasts more like 8 hours, but takes the user in more gradually. Going back to that roller coaster metaphor, ayahuasca would be more like a roller coaster that goes up a long incline before getting into the intense stuff.

  6. I would like to add that for anyone intrigued by DMT to also research Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a traditional brew used in South America for centuries, whose name means “Vine of the souls”. It usually contains the plants Psychotria viridis which naturally contains DMT, and Banisteriopsis caapi which contains an MAOI (the effect of which is to greatly extend the effects of the DMT)

    It has been used in spiritual and healing ceremonies for decades, with research in recent years into its use to cure addictions.

  7. I was an avid mushroom user back in my 20’s — I’d tried all the chemical stuff, but couldn’t stand it. Anyway, I would sit back in a chair and stare at the wall and the Aztecs would tell me stories, these insane stories filled with Aztec imagery. I had never even remotely been into Aztec mythology, history, etc, I don’t know where it all came from. But each and every time, just floods of imagery from ancient Aztec Wars…
    Not the same as your experience, but I am intrigued by the “where did that come from” idea….
    Thanks for the excellently written post!

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I had a realization about the whole tribal nature of my experience. I realized I was thinking of it wrong, kind of backwards. I had been thinking in terms of “why were those things dancing like Native Americans?” but, when I thought about it, I realized, “Oh, wait. The Native Americans have been dancing like them.” In other words, I realized the Native Americans may have had experiences with this drug too, and it may have influenced their culture. You may have had a similar thing going on with the shrooms and the Aztecs.

    1. Haha! Yeah, it seems that would be the ten million dollar question. That, my friend, must be left up to your own resourcefulness. :P Don’t you have any like modern-day hippy friends? Everyone should have at least one. And every hippy knows at least one person who could probably find you some DMT lol. I was lucky, my hippy friend came to me with it haha.

      1. This whole thread is fascinating. I have done weed and mushrooms, but my mushroom experience was amazing. In ways it was similar to your experience. I ate the mushrooms in the morning while camping with some friends in Joshua Tree, and I did it with the intent to “open my third eye”, so to speak. When it kicked in, I felt like some switch had been flipped somewhere, that something had changed that I was only aware of on an intuitive level. I was amazed by the beauty of all the living things around me, and I felt myself connected to the earth, I felt a benevolent presence that energized me, and I was rock climbing like a lizard apparently. Friends that were watching said that it seemed like I was in a completely different place every time they looked. As I was coming down, I felt like my consciousness was raised and was looking down on my life as a timeline. I knew that the good friends I was with at the moment would scatter after this trip, that in about twenty years my parents would pass away, but all these things would come in their right time and that I would be okay. I felt like I was not alone in this perception, that there was a benevolent presence looking over my shoulder. After the whole thing concluded, I came to the same realization that you did, that psychedelics are a tool for us to expand our consciousness, given to us with intent, and that they should be used with intent and respect. It strengthened my spirituality, but made me much less concerned with specifics, much less concerned with religion. However, my experience didn’t involve any direct communication with otherworldly beings. Your interpretation of your experience seems very wise and level-headed. If their level of consciousness is as elevated as you perceived, I doubt that your telling others of your experience would anger them. I think they would welcome more people who want to expand their conciousness as well.

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